Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

O (deep breath) M (deeper breath) G (and exhale)!

O... M... G...

 ¡Hola!  ;)  You know... I really like publishing posts on a monthly basis as it gives me the opportunity for reflection and - in a non-attached way - look at my reactions to different events throughout a period of time as well as the lessons I have learned from them.  And boy... What a month this has been!

 Okay, then, if I was once worried about "Roberta"...

At the beginning of the month, and as a follow up to my last post, I published the knitting pattern to "Ola", the hat my dear friend Mark modeled for me in Puerto Rico.  The pattern was published in our online knitting community: Ravelry.  Since the pattern had been written so long ago, the model in the pattern itself was my son, P, who in his goofy surfer way agreed to pose for a couple of pictures about four years ago.  But I was so proud of the shots with which we ended up after our visit to PR, I decided to use one of Mark's shots as the "cover photo" for the pattern.  OMG!  What a reaction that caused in our knitting community!  I am not quite clear what happened, but all of a sudden, the pattern went into the "What's Hot" list and people started talking about... the picture... and hardly the pattern, sadly.  Many folks took a chance to read the blog, understand the story, and make some very supportive comments.  A few others - and they were certainly the minority - decided to criticize, complain, and berate without ever getting to know me, hear the story, or learn anything about what I have been doing with my knitting and the blog over the last couple of years.

I discovered - once again - that no matter how many beautiful (and many oh-so-funny) things were shared with me, the mean ones really got to me. If I was once worried about "Roberta", I was now living the problem magnified.  It felt awful every time I opened my email because I didn't know what to expect.  And I kept feeling bad not only because of what had the possibility to come up in email, but because I was letting the few (and they were very few) comments get to me.  C'mon!  Really?!  Does that ever happen to anyone else other than me?!  Ugh...  But with every email I was about to open, I repeated my mantra, I reminded myself that I had not done anything wrong, and I tried to remember my sister's advice:  "Don't let others' issues veer you away from your own journey."

My "favorite" story came from a woman who claimed I had gotten her in trouble with her school principal for showing a picture of a naked man to her son.  I felt horrible.  She mentioned how she was looking for a hat to make for her son and when she clicked on the pattern, there was my model, "naked".  I felt horrible.  I apologized.  Then, she demanded I took the picture down.  Her sudden change from victim to jailer confused me...  I decided to explore the pattern in the way she described and I realized that she had had to click on the picture more than three times and scroll down before she could have seen the entire picture in front of her son.  (Really, woman, you couldn't have stopped at one, two, or three clicks before scrolling if you were going to be that offended?)  Furthermore, since MY son was the model in the pattern, I was now certain that she NEVER opened the pattern itself.  That's too bad.  Do you think she made it to this blog?  ;)

This experience prompted two sets of questions for me: 

(1)  What's the problem with the implication of nudity?  Certainly, I have yet to show any genitals in any of my pictures.  So, why are some so bent out of shape from seeing nothing?  Aren't we all made the same?  Why are we still carrying these puritanical views from over a century ago?  Gosh, I am working so hard to make my son proud of his body and what the Universe has given him... sometimes, I feel little support on that and feel highly confused by the "Robertas" of the world.  Why is that?

(2)  What's with the hypocrisy (and I realize that this is such a strong word) about sexuality?  If I philosophically followed the nasty comments I received about "nudity", I would be running around magazine stands and TV covering up half of the things my son sees every day.  Why is that okay, but this isn't, Roberta? 

Me?  Nope, I don't need any more...

One of the comments I received this month accused me of being needy for attention.    I am not sure how that came about.  I have surmised since then that the knitter who made this accusation - as some others did as well - thought I was the model, and showing up "my" naked body sent the message that I wanted people to look at me.  To that very long message, I replied, simply, with my own truth.  No, I don't need any more attention from any stranger as I receive enough attention from my son, my partner, and my family and friends.  Back in my twenties and thirties, perhaps my life was about that.  Through a lot of personal work, I have realized that there is a lot of power in getting the right kind of attention, but that right kind comes from the love of those most important to me.


Well, as quickly as the excitement went up, it also died down.  THANK GOD.  I was/am certainly grateful for that, but today, I am also immensely grateful for one more thing.  Through this experience in February, I felt love and support from new friends in my knitting community.  To every beautiful human being who made us all laugh through comments and stories, who stood side-by-side with me or others who expressed their points of view politely and eloquently (in agreement or disagreement), and to the new friends I now have in Ravelry, Facebook, and even in this blog, I humbly say...


As the month moved on, I took this gratitude and deposited into my emotional bank account.  I did not count, however, on what would happen next.  This gratitude grew exponentially with every experience this month.  I could not resist, and at about three points in time throughout the month, this feeling would burst like a balloon.  During those moments, I felt overcome with such amazing gratitude to everyone and everything, and to such a degree that it was as if my chest could not take it.  As overwhelming as it felt, it has also been so very beautiful!  Wow.  

But it was not just the positive things this month that have made me grateful, All those moments that felt "painful" while they were happening also contributed to this awesome feeling of appreciation.  Those moments have shaped and reshaped me throughout the month.  And for the first time, today, I appreciate every single one of them.

February had the same energy and movement as the waves in the hat I presented last month.  It's incredible that the metaphors of the hat played themselves throughout these 28 days with the same rhythm and frequency as in the pattern itself.  I loved spending time with friends during our annual Purification Day party.  It is always fun to see folks for a night of bubbly and crepe tossing hoping for good fortune in this coming year.  I loved spending Valentine's Day with my two favorite men (my son and my partner) at our favorite restaurant.  I loved the new professional relationships I have forged this month.  And I loved the time I spent with Jon - especially during our partner yoga workshop.  It was fun, loving, nurturing. 

On the other side of that coin, this month I also felt with my loved ones... my heart is with my friends struggling with the passing of loved ones - from their four-legged family members to their colleagues to their two-legged and spirited family members.  My heart is still with the moms of two dear friends who are struggling with illness; may they recover so very soon.  And I pray and keep in my yoga practice intentions my friends, other parents just trying to go through every day life just like I am: doing their best to tackle the challenges presented in front of them.  I have some very strong friends, and still I know that we all need each other.  Together, we can make it through.

Sofía de las Castañedas

From Ola, we go to Olé with Sofía de las Castañedas, a sassy capelet.  It somehow belongs in this month's theme.

Last summer, I showed my sister a picture of a very cool capelet thinking she'd say, "I want to knit that", but knowing in my heart that she'd say, "Why don't you knit that for me?"  Mind lost; heart won.  "If you buy the yarn, I'll knit it", I said.  She did.  I did. 

The construction of this capelet is easy since it is knitted sideways as if it were a long scarf.  It has a few increases to account for a wider back, and it has what has to be my most favorite thing to do in knitting:  cables!  Once the tube is long enough, it gets sewn together, stitches are picked on one side (which becomes the top) and a rib is built to finish it off like the top of a sock or a stocking.

The construction took a little longer than I anticipated and the capelet made it to the brother/sister trip to NYC last fall, and to Puerto Rico and back before it made it to its owner.  However, if you think that this made it seem like a chore, I have given you the wrong impression.  It was a pleasure to knit since I LOVE cables!  (Have I said that yet?!)

The thing I like about cables is that they are "roads" intertwined while moving forward.  And this month, I found a lot of those roads intertwined: 
  • in Ravelry with all the comments, the support, and the disagreements,
  • at work with all the different things going on:  projects, new people, new structures, new journeys,
  • at home with the everyday struggles of managing a home, raising a son, and building loving and patient relationships,
  • in my yoga teacher training with my classmates (whom I adore),
  • and in my yoga practice trying to be kind, patient, and loving to myself and the energy around me.
When it came time to find a model for this capelet, I had the perfect person in mind and I was honored that she agreed to do this for me.  Things do happen for a reason, and it took a little longer than I thought not only to finish this piece, but to have the right model with the matching spirit model it for me.

I think this Sofía de las Castañedas belongs with the events of this month for many reasons but the most importantly to me is that my road has crossed and intertwined with so many others.  I cannot express my gratitude for having you read this and hang in there with me.  I am humbled by your care and support and as always look forward to your continued advice.  Talk to me.  ;)e-


My heart goes out to my dear friend, Jenny A., for modeling this piece for me.  Jenny has a wonderful, beautiful spirit, and goes through life with grace and energy no matter what.  I hope you can see all that I see in her in her smile, her poise, and her expression.